Sen. Jay Rockefeller on EPA rule: ‘The costs of inaction are far greater than the costs of action’

June 2, 2014 by Ken Ward Jr.

Jay Rockefeller

Here’s the statement just issued by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., regarding today’s EPA proposal on carbon pollution from power plants:

The EPA announced today a major step in reducing carbon emissions, and I support its goal of safeguarding the public’s health.  Strengthening West Virginians’ health and well being has always been at the heart of my career in public service.

I understand the fears that these rules will eliminate jobs, hurt our communities, and drive up costs for working families.  I am keenly focused on policy issues that affect West Virginians’ health and their livelihoods.  However, rather than let fear alone drive our response, we should make this an opportunity to build a stronger future for ourselves.  West Virginians have never walked away from a challenge, and I know together we can create a future that protects our health, creates jobs, and maintains coal as a core part of our energy supply.  Already, we’ve seen successes with clean coal technology in West Virginia, and countries around the world are innovating to reduce carbon emissions from coal.  We have the brightest minds and the competitive spirit to solve this challenge – but achieving this goal means finding the political will to invest real federal dollars in clean coal technology rather than continuing to rely solely on the private sector.

The threat that climate change and unhealthy air pose to all of our futures cannot be understated.  And, the costs of inaction are far greater than the costs of action.

5 Responses to “Sen. Jay Rockefeller on EPA rule: ‘The costs of inaction are far greater than the costs of action’”

  1. ArmoredFaceConveyor says:

    So I guess Jay thinks we would all be better off if J.D. had left all the oil in the ground?

    What positive actions is he taking for the citizens he represents?

    In my opinion West Virginia would have been better served if Jay had retired six years ago.

  2. I’m gratified that West Virginia had Jay Rockefeller as one of our civil servants for as long as we did, and I will miss him. He’s one of the few political leaders who is capable of seeing the forest for the trees.

    How tragic for the people of West Virginia, where I live, that we have allowed both the coal industry and our political leaders to paint our state into this economic corner. They have convinced the people that economic diversification simply is not possible. Case in point is the stirring refrain at the end of every coal industry commercial: “COOOAAL is West Virginiaaaaaaa!” Well, coal most certainly OWNS West Virginia, from the people (who do the industry’s advertising for FREE, by way of those “Friends of Coal” stickers on the back of their pickups and SUVs) to the media (who get huge amounts of ad revenue from the coal industry) to the very politicians who are wined and dined and had their campaign pockets lined by the coal industry.

    Of course, there was a time when the coal industry tried to portray their product as the environmentally-friendly fuel of the future. Most people in West Virginia and Kentucky can remember all those old Walker Machinery billboards that read, “Yes, COAL, Clean, carbon-neutral COAL.” The whole idea was that new carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology could cut greenhouse gas emissions and allow coal to remain the backbone of West Virginia’s economy … which of course it still is. But you don’t see those billboards anymore, because implementing CCS will cause electric bills to go up by 40%. The one CCS pilot project up in the northern panhandle was shut down, and the carbon continues to be sequestered … straight UP into the atmosphere.

    In West Virginia the coal industry employs only about 1/8th the number of miners it did 60 years ago, and that is most certainly NOT because of regulations by the evil government, but because of the profit motive, pure and simple. As underground coal seams become thinner, it has become more cost-effective to blow up mountains, fill in the streams, and sort the coal from the dirt. Fewer miners, more explosives and heavy machinery, huge amounts of coal-washing detergents like MCHM (which gave our drinking water that delightful licorice smell not too long ago), and vast tracts of moonscape utterly unsuitable for commercial development.

    In the next few decades, humankind will need to double, or even triple energy production as billions of people in the developing world lift themselves out of poverty and begin to live modern lives. Unless the source of this new energy is clean and non-CO2 emitting, the risk of triggering a devastating global climate catastrophe is all but certain. We coddled the coal industry, preferring cheap electricity and short-term “prosperity” over long-term environmental protection for future generations. Now we have to deal with the environmental consequences, which are coming back to haunt West Virginia.

  3. Robin Wilson says:

    Thanks to Coal Tattoo for the great coverage of the EPA rule.

    We need a fee and dividend carbon tax policy to speed up the transition off fossil fuels. I would encourage individuals to keep implementing energy efficiency, renewable energy, and frugality so that we can create a climate safe world. If West Virginia reduces CO2 pollution another 15 % below the already accomplished 15% reduction from the 2005 levels we still face increases in global warming.

  4. Thomas Rodd says:

    Floods, heat waves, deep cold snaps, the destruction of the Highlands ecology and economy, and species extinctions are not a choice that we want to make for our future and our State.

    I am hopeful that the new EPA rules will allow West Virginia to be an active participant in slowing human-caused global warming, and limiting the dangerous impacts of climate change. That means we need a power plant emissions reduction system that is realistic, flexible, and achievable.

    We need less political posturing and more dialogue and action. People in West Virginia, including our political leaders, are coming to understand a simple truth — human-caused global warming and climate change are real, global greenhouse gas emissions have to be reduced, and we have choices. This understanding is causing people to come together to work for climate and energy solutions that benefit West Virginia.

    As Dean Joyce McConnell at the WVU College of Law has said, West Virginia has all the ingredients to lead on energy, sustainability, and global warming and climate change. We are in the game, whether we like it or not. I see signs of progress on many fronts.

    The June 7 Blackwater Falls “Climate Change and the Highlands: What’s at Stake — What’s at Risk?” Conference is an example, and there are lots more. You can register at the door and there are seats left. Let’s go!

  5. Steve says:

    Chuck, I’m not quite sure where your numbers come from but one of the reasons for the reduction of jobs in the coal industry is technology. Better equipment, PLCs, computers, etc. all have played there part in reducing the number of jobs needed in all industries over the last several decades.

    Thomas, I love your enthusiasm, but please give us all more than “we have choices” or “This understanding is causing people to come together to work for climate and energy solutions that benefit West Virginia.”

    Enlighten us all with good proven examples of what you mean, not just so many words. Its a little late in the game now to start looking for something that might work, or we hope will work isn’t it?

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